As I read the hype surrounding the I-Phone 5 release this week, it made me wonder how anyone can justify spending $800 on a phone while the nation is in the midst of economic crisis. I'm not criticizing you, if you did buy one and can afford it. It just made me think about the dichotomy that exists today when we have record high unemployment rates, home foreclosures and unprecedented national debt, and a national culture that tells us to spend a significant amount of money on a new phone every 12 months.
I have to wonder if we, collectively, are doing all we can today to teach children the difference between "wants" and "needs." I know I can definitely improve in this area, as evidenced by the number of toys I have picked up off the floor at the end of any given night, or the number I have tripped over in the past few days. I realize that there are many ways I could improve upon my own spending habits if I plan to set a good example for my child when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
So, if we can readily admit that we often buy things we do not really need, then what are our motivations behind doing so? Are we falling victim to the advertising pressures and media messages out there today that are constantly telling us to "Buy new! Buy now!"? Are we taking the recession seriously or are we in denial? Perhaps we are still stuck in the endless cycle of consumerism that tells us that our latest purchase was only good enough when we bought it, but today we need something that's new.
There is quite a bit of profit to be made when companies can make us believe that "new" actually means "better." But, experience tells us that this is not always the case. "New" simply means "new." And, history should tell us that often our most cherished possessions are the ones we have held on to for the longest amount of time or have been passed down to us from other generations. Are we leaving this same legacy for our little ones?
Shouldn't we be setting better examples for our children so they do not continue the cycle of spending more than they can afford? I know this is something that I am striving toward, even if I am not quite there, yet.
So, if we tell our children "no" when they want a new toy, but give in when we "want" the newest phone on the market because of the games we can play on it, aren't we sending a mixed message? Have you taken time to consider what your buying habits are saying to the next generation?
If your children are older, have you warned them about the dangers of texting while driving? Even so, are you practicing what you preach? When it comes to texting, are you careful to do so sparingly, especially around your children? Are you participating in meaningful face-to-face conversations to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence and other misunderstandings? Or are you relying on texting, emailing and other forms of communication when you know you really should be having these conversations in person? The next time you start to send a text and your child is nearby, stop and think about the message you are sending your child who is observing your behavior whether you realize it or not.
Can you help your household budget by cutting back on your monthly cell phone bill? Are you really going to wait in a line to buy an $800 phone, along with the required new plugs, new monthly data plan and other expenses to go along with it just so you can play a game or use an "App?" How can we expect our country to climb out of crisis when we are not willing to look at ourselves and our beliefs first?
Do you really "need" a phone that talks to you?
As my six year old would say, "Really?" (You would have to actually see and hear her in order to get the full effect of that sentiment. But, then again, that's sort of the whole point of this article, isn't it?)